86.2 kg. Again.

Author photo by Beth Adele Long, 2016.

Yeah, I know, I don’t look like I could be 86 kg,* but I am. I ‘carry it well’. I almost have a waist.

This is so hard, so disheartening sometimes. I’ve been hungry for over a year now — I’ve lost almost exactly 30 kg so far. Another 13 and I’d be OK. Maybe 18. But I’ve plateaued for the past three months. I got down to 86 then slipped back up to 88 kg and just stuck there. For months. I’m finally back down to 86 again. I’ve pretty much stopped eating altogether to do it. This isn’t a plan, this is desperation.

Don’t tell me I’m doing it wrong. I’ll fucking rip your eyes out.

(No, I won’t, I’ll nod and agree with you and wonder why I’m always doing it wrong.)

It wasn’t always like this. I was one of the ‘skinny white girls’ that everything centred around. It came easy. People always told me how great I looked. Of course they did. I never thought about it. I was thoughtless. I didn’t have to grow up being ‘the fat girl’ like my friend Elle, constantly abused, friendless, hating herself for not being a skinny white girl like me.

(I was probably one of the ones bringing it. I know I was. Shit.)

I had the strangest, ordinary dream the other night. I was getting ready for work, putting on this dress I had when I was in my early 30s — a cream coloured fitted sheath I wore with a wide sassy red belt and matching pumps and earrings. I was watching myself in the full-length mirror as I buckled the belt, really enjoying what I saw. I awoke crying.

I just want my waist back. That’s all I want. (Why?)

It feels so shallow, but it isn’t. I feel like, at my age, I shouldn’t be consumed by such things. I look good ‘for my age’ — hell, better than most, and I’m not beyond casting the side-eye and comparing. (Shit. There I go again.) It’s life-long and corrosive. I’m single right now and I don’t want to be. I want a ‘meaningful relationship’ with a man and I don’t think I can have that unless I have a waist. It would take all day to unpack that. (WTF.)

I wore my new dress this morning — a striking floral in a great fabric that drapes wonderfully to just above the knee. With the weight loss I’ve got my legs back. I’ve always had great legs, they’re my superpower. Sheer hose and my Franco Sartos and I felt killer. Click-clicking across the car park at the bank, a woman smiled and called out a compliment — I love that. The dress has an Empire waist, which hides my lady bulge and gives me a little more boob than I really have. It’s always qualified.

I was at the bank to open an account, and the bank manager and I hit it off right away. We get to the part where I present her my I.D. and I shrink a little, die a little inside, laugh.

‘This is where you get to see my fat picture.’

Why do I have to say that? (Had she not been another woman I wouldn’t have done.) She takes the I.D., looks at the picture. I’m embarrassed. (Why?)

‘Hang on.’

She gets out her mobile and flips through, hands it to me. She has hers set up as a split-frame, Before and After. My pie-hole is agape, this is unbelievable. I look up at her, back to the screen. I was really fat, but never like this, not like that.

(Shit. There I go again. Why would I even think that?)

I’ve lost 30 kg; she lost well over a hundred. She is flush with pride as I hand her mobile back.

She should be proud of such an incredible achievement, but there is something disconcerting in all this — as we bond over our shared years-long struggle, share our frustration over our respective current plateaus, acknowledge how we don’t exercise as we should, compare how we hide the excess skin, mention possible surgery. Even as we congratulate each other on our achievements, our struggle, our part-way conditional win, it is this very bonding over our tacit and assumed agreement…that this is what we must do, that this is somehow who we are…it makes me so uneasy. Like: this is a requirement, an obligation on our bodies, and we’re still somehow doing it wrong.

(But I want my waist back. Please.)

She looks great and I tell her so and then I wonder who decided what great looks like.

* 86 kg is about 13–1/2 stone; about 190 pounds.

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